|Publication number||US6868081 B1|
|Application number||US 09/290,855|
|Publication date||Mar 15, 2005|
|Filing date||Apr 13, 1999|
|Priority date||Apr 13, 1999|
|Publication number||09290855, 290855, US 6868081 B1, US 6868081B1, US-B1-6868081, US6868081 B1, US6868081B1|
|Inventors||Abdul Ghafoor Akram, Stanley Chum, Frank Anthony DeNap|
|Original Assignee||Sprint Communications Company L.P.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (24), Non-Patent Citations (3), Referenced by (58), Classifications (12), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to telecommunications systems, and more particularly to a phone system for providing simultaneous multiline telephone and data calls over a single access facility.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Telephone customers, especially residential customers, are desirous of being able to simultaneously support multiple telephones calls while accessing data services including the Internet World Wide Web. This demand is being driven by the explosive growth of home computers, fax machines, and the need for multiple phone numbers for a single residence. Currently, about one-third of the American households have more than one phone line, and one-half of the American households have personal computers with a significant number of these households accessing the Internet World Wide Web.
As each standard analog phone line offered by telephone companies currently supports the use of a one telephone service at a time (e.g., a voice call, or a data call), customers must have installed multiple telephone lines to simultaneously use multiple calls. For example, two analog lines are needed to simultaneously make a telephone call while using a personal computer to access the Internet; three lines are required for two phone calls and one data call; and four analog telephone lines for two phones calls, one fax call, and one data call. This becomes quite expensive to have several simultaneous calls as the customer must pay for each phone line, usually on a monthly basis.
Another limitation to providing a plurality of phone lines to the vast majority of residences is the limited embedded copper plant of telephone companies. Typically, each phone line is provided over a single twisted copper pair to the residence, with each residence having only one or two twisted pair to the telephone company. Thus, many customers are limited to simultaneously operating one or two telephonic devices. Therefore, customers are desirous of a service which allows the placement of a plurality of calls over a single analog telephone line.
According to the invention, a method and apparatus are disclosed for providing multiline telephonic and data services over a single access facility. In one embodiment of the present invention, a wall unit is located at a customer premises which terminates a single analog phone line and adaptively multiplexes a plurality of telephonic and data calls over the single analog phone line. A corresponding gateway server (or a plurality of gateway servers), which supports one or a plurality of wall unit calls, is located in the public switched telephone network (“PSTN”) (or possibly in a private telephone network). The gateway server communicates with one or more active wall units to extract one or more telephonic and data calls from the analog signal produced from a wall unit, and to appropriately route the telephonic calls over the PSTN and the data packets over the Internet or to other data services.
The wall unit plugs into a standard analog telephone outlet at home, and communicates to the PSTN over an analog phone line over a single twisted pair. The wall unit is powered by standard commercial power with battery backup. The wall unit uses the telephone number of the analog phone line. The telephonic and data devices connected to the wall unit are each assigned individual virtual phone numbers by the provider of the service embodying this invention. To reach one of these devices, its respective virtual telephone number is used. The virtual phone numbers are published across the PSTN and therefore can be reached from anywhere on the PSTN. In this manner, the present invention provides multiple and simultaneous telephone calls and PC Internet access to the World Wide Web, to and from a residence or other customer location.
In a second embodiment, virtual phone numbers are not required. Rather, the provider of a service embodying the present invention “intercepts” incoming calls specifying a subscribing residence's phone number, and routes them through the gateway. When an interchange carrier or alternate service provider offers this service, the modem connection between the residence and service provider is preferably established at all times; and calls initiated from the local telephone company are call-forwarded-on-busy to the gateway server.
The gateway server is the equipment installed at the service provider point of presence. It provides the overall system control functions, and serves as a gateway between the households, Internet world and the public switched telephone network. All calls to/from a wall unit will be processed by a gateway server. Depending on the types of calls, the gateway server will route or connect the call to either the Internet or PSTN. The present invention applies industry standard technology and protocols to solve a long felt, and significant need to provide multiple, simultaneous telephone and/or data calls over a single analog telephone line.
The wall unit and gateway server communicate with each other via a standard modem connection. When an incoming or outgoing call is detected by either a wall unit or a gateway server, a session is established between the originating/destination wall unit and the destination/originating gateway server if a connection is not already pending. The telephone signals are digitized, compressed, packetized, and sent across the connection, with the other side extracting and appropriately processing the incoming signal. In one embodiment, G72x protocol (e.g., G729.1) is used to encode a voice call to between 8 and 16 KBPS. Thus, over a single 56 KBPS analog phone line, three simultaneous voice calls can be accommodated. The data channel is usually assigned a lower priority than the telephonic traffic, and can use all the bandwidth of the analog phone line unused by the telephonic calls.
The present inventions includes a system for providing multiline service, the system comprising: a modem for exchanging communications signals with a communications network and for exchanging an incoming digital signal and an outgoing digital signal with a statistical multiplexor; the statistical multiplexor for exchanging the incoming digital signal and the outgoing digital signal with the modem, for multiplexing a plurality of outgoing encoded signals from a plurality of telephonic devices into the outgoing digital signal, and for demultiplexing the incoming digital signal into a plurality of incoming encoded telephonic call signals; and at least one call processing element coupled to the statistical multiplexor for converting the plurality of incoming encoded telephonic call signals into a plurality of incoming phone signals, and for converting a plurality of outgoing phone signals into the plurality of outgoing encoded telephonic signals.
Moreover, the present invention includes a system for simultaneously providing multiline phone and data service, the system comprising: a modem for exchanging communications signals with a communications network and for exchanging an incoming digital signal and an outgoing digital signal with a statistical multiplexor; the statistical multiplexor for exchanging the incoming digital signal and the outgoing digital signal with the modem, and for multiplexing an outgoing encoded telephonic call signal and an outgoing data signal into the outgoing digital signal, and for demultiplexing the incoming digital signal into an incoming encoded telephonic call signal and an incoming data signal; and a call processing element coupled to the statistical multiplexor for converting the incoming encoded telephonic call signal into an incoming phone signal, and for converting an outgoing phone signal into the outgoing encoded telephonic signal.
The present invention also provides for A system for providing multiline calls, the system comprising: a modem for exchanging customer signals over a telephone line having encoded therein a set of multiline calls, and for communicating incoming and outgoing digital signals with a statistical multiplexor; the statistical multiplexor for exchanging the digital signals with the modem, and for multiplexing at least one outgoing encoded telephonic call signal from a telephone network into the outgoing digital signal, and for demultiplexing the incoming digital signal into at least one incoming encoded telephonic call signal; at least one call processor coupled to the statistical multiplexor for converting the at least one incoming and outgoing encoded telephonic call signals into at least one telephone network call, and for providing the at least one telephone network call to a gateway switch for communicating over the telephone network; and a control coupled to the at least one call processor for controlling the call processor and for exchanging signaling information with the gateway switch.
The present invention includes a computer-readable medium containing computer-executable instructions for performing steps comprising: receiving a voice call setup request from a remote wall unit; initiating a telephone call set-up over the public switched telephone network using Signaling System 7 (SS7) protocols in response to receipt of the wall unit voice call setup request; and connecting a call from the wall unit to the public switched telephone network by sending signaling messages to the wall unit in response to receipt of a SS7 messages from the public switched telephone network indicating the call is completed to a destination specified in the voice call setup message; converting a Voice Over Internet Protocol encoded signal received from the wall unit to a voice signal recognizable by the public switched telephone network; and converting a voice signal incoming from the public switched telephone network into a Voice Over Internet Protocol encoded signal for transmission to the wall unit.
The appended claims set forth the features of the present invention with particularity. The invention, together with its advantages, may be best understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings of which:
With reference to
In one embodiment of the present invention for an interexchange carrier to offer a service comprising the present invention, a residence 100 includes a wall unit 110 for communicating over a single access facility (e.g., a telephone line) with the gateway server 180 of an interchange carrier via a local switch 160 and a gateway switch 170. Alternatively, the gateway server 180 could be connected directly to the local switch 160 for a local exchange carrier provided service comprising the present invention. The wall unit 110 allows multiple customer premises equipment (e.g., phones 111, 112; facsimile machine 113; and computer 114) to simultaneously communicate over a single analog telephone line as described herein. The present invention is not limited four devices connected to the, wall unit 110. Rather, in keeping with the scope and spirit of the present invention, a wall unit supporting additional combinations of the number of analog and digital devices is contemplated, and is a design decision based on market considerations and on current compression and encoding technology as the bandwidth of the telephone line limits the number of simultaneous connections.
Turning now to
When the wall unit is functioning properly, the analog telephone devices connected to RJ14 ports 261-263 are electrically connected to call processing unit 230, which compresses and encodes signals of these devices using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology (represented as elements or modules 231-233). These VOIP signals are communicated to/from statistical multiplexor 220 (which is alternatively a router). The output of statistical multiplexor 220 is electrically connected to modem 210 which compresses and encodes the signal to/from statistical multiplexor 220. In addition, data port 264 is electrically connected to statistical multiplexor 220. The analog side of modem 210 is connected to RJ11 port 211 for connecting the wall unit 110 to a standard analog telephone line.
The overall operation of wall unit 110 is controlled by system control 270, which coordinates the activities of the components of the wall unit and communicates signaling information with the gateway server 180. System control 270 typically comprises a computer such as a microprocessor and computer-readable medium or storage (e.g., ROM, RAM, or external storage devices) storing instructions which are computer-executable by the system control 270.
The wall unit 110 further comprises CPE interface circuitry 250 under the control of system control 270. The CPE interface circuitry 250 is connected to the telephonic ports 261-263 by lines 251-253. The CPE interface circuitry 250 provides standard telephone interface functions, including providing D.C. power, detecting on-hook and off-hook conditions, providing ring current, and ring-back and busy tones. The overall operation and control of wall unit 110 is described hereinafter in relation to the flow diagrams illustrated in
Turning now to
Calls from/to the wall units 110 (
Turning now to
Next, processing branches at point 406 to simultaneously (1) establish connection to the gateway server 180 if necessary as determined in steps 412 and 414, and (2) to process step 410 to collect the dialed phone number digits (i.e. DTMF tones) by call processing element 230. Processing of flow diagram 4A joins at point 416, and continues with step 418 where the voice call is completed. To complete the call, call processing element 230 converts the collected phone number to call setup Internet Protocol data packets which conform to the H.323/Q.931 protocol. These data packets are multiplexed by statistical multiplexor 220 with data from other ports 261-263 and sent to gateway server 180. Once the call is established, the VOIP digital signal processor element 231-233 starts the analog to digital conversion and the compression of the voice of the local user using G72x protocol. It is then packetized using the IP protocol and sent to the gateway server 180. The gateway server 180 receives the voice, decompresses it, converts it to an analog signal and puts it on to the PSTN. Simultaneously, the compressed voice data is received by the wall unit 110, is decompressed using the same data path, and is put on the phone line for the user in a full duplex operation. When the telephone call is done as determined in step 420, the call is terminated in step 422, which can include sending and receiving signaling messages with the gateway server 180, and optionally, immediately or after a predetermined time delay of inactivity, the modem connection with the gateway server 180 is terminated if no other voice or data call is in progress.
Turning now to
Otherwise, in step 438, the CPE interface circuitry 250 generates a ring signal on the appropriate port 261-263. If the phone is answered as determined in step 440, then in step 442 a signaling message is sent to the gateway server 180 by system control 270 and the voice session commences. When the call is completed as determined in step 444 either by a telephonic device going on-hook or the receipt of a call termination message from gateway server 180, then the call is terminated in step 446, which is also the case if the phone is not answered as determined in step 440.
Turning now to
Turning now to
Turning now to
Turning finally to
For a data call, steps 526-536 are performed. First, in step 526, the data call is established by communicating signaling information with the wall unit 110 and by establishing a logical communications channel between the statistical multiplexor 320 and router 330. Then, at step 528, packets comprising the data call are routed between the wall unit 110 and the Internet 390. When the call is done, as determined in step 534, step 536 is performed to terminate the data call and release the resources.
For a voice call, steps 540-548 are performed. First, in step 540, the destination phone number is received through signaling messages between the wall unit 110 and gateway server 180. In step 542, the gateway server initiates a call over the PSTN to the destination and upon receipt of a call connection message, step 544 is performed to connect the call from the PSTN to the appropriate port of the wall unit 110. When the call is done, as determined in step 546, step 548 is performed to terminate the data call and release the resources.
In view of the many possible embodiments to which the principles of our invention may be applied, it will be appreciated that the embodiment described herein with respect to the drawing figures is only illustrative and should not be taken as limiting the scope of the invention. To the contrary, the invention as described herein contemplates all such embodiments as may come within the scope of the following claims and equivalents thereof.
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|U.S. Classification||370/356, 370/468, 379/173, 370/352, 379/229, 370/389|
|International Classification||H04M1/253, H04M1/738|
|Cooperative Classification||H04M1/7385, H04M1/2535|
|European Classification||H04M1/253W, H04M1/738P|
|Sep 13, 1999||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SPRINT COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY, L.P., MISSOURI
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:AKRAM, ABDUL GHAFOOR;DENAP, FRANK ANTHONY;CHUM, STANLEY;REEL/FRAME:010240/0672;SIGNING DATES FROM 19990614 TO 19990701
|Jul 8, 2008||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Aug 1, 2012||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8